I made my way to the Wetlands after work, to meet my friend Nile,
with whom I was attending the first Dankster edition at the Saint
in Asbury Park, NJ. However, the moment we exited the Holland Tunnel,
cruising happily into the pollution-beautiful sunset over Jersey
City, we got a flat tire. Luckily, the ironically-named "Moe and
Moe's Used Auto Body" got us a new (albeit mud-encrusted) wheel
for about $20. I raised my camera, and took a snapshot of the sign,
grinning with disbelief.
Night cruisin', we soon discovered we had no idea where the place
was. The air through the window got cooler, and soon downright moist
and cold as we made our way to the shore. No direction! We found
a shop, hopped out, and asked. The grizzled old woman in the lime
green top was a cryptic oracle: "Around the traffic circle, through
the pines, past the Caldor, past the Coca-Cola bottlers, past the..."
We kept driving, and got lost.
The ocean roared, and I stood on the boardwalk holding my hair back
and looking around. A drunk man told me to look for the Laundromat,
a girl who said she was a witch told us to go left, a teenager on
a bike asked if I liked silver. I said yes.
We got to The Saint at 10:30 PM, in the middle of Max and Tom's
set. I was filthy, and wearing a ski hat with dangling pom-poms
on strings. We'd missed Gibb Droll. I was incensed.
But as the rest of the show went on, I was thrilled. The atmosphere
was quirky, steeped in the Saint's blend of collected semi-nostalgic
Jersey Shore knickknacks and pop-culture detritus. With a age-varied
crowd, comprised largely of veteran area moe.showgoers, who crept
out on a Tuesday night out to see what the fuss was all about, the
atmosphere was warm, despite the uncharacteristic coolness outside.
One could clearly hear and observe bursts of (often whiskey-induced)
hysterics issuing from the performers as they beheld what was rapidly
unfolding, coming and going from the stage. The preceding day's
"practice session" with Gans, Garvey and Gibb was all that was experienced
in the way of preparation. I might now add that the way of the Dankster
is also terminal randomness.
I liken the show at the Saint to the maiden voyage of the first
air-flight vehicle, engineered by the Wright brothers. Fraught with
uncertainty, the outcome was engaging and a bit humorous, and electrifying,
without high technology. Max and Tom mixed it up, with a Dylan tune,
one of their band's own, and one from the Boston noir-ish and sultry
Boston band, Morphine, among others. Peter Prince left many a jaw
hanging agape with the stomp and twitch of his mostly self-composed,
Finally, in what was meant to be the "main event" of sorts, Gans
and his band of able sidemen took the stage. All went fairly smoothly,
through performances of the man's sometimes funny and rhythmic,
and often sweet and poignant, but always lyrical tunes. Covers were
also thrown in; that night's first Pink Floyd-tinged rendition of
Elton John's "Rocket Man" slithered and soared. With strong and
limber support by all, each filling in on rhythm, and thrills and
spills from Gans, Garvey and Ruch on alternate leads, the selection
In the end, all parties got on stage and rediscovered, in my opinion,
the art of the group jam for the late 90's. This lost trade, so
badly done by so many, carried just the right balance of harmony,
entropy and symbolic influence. The Dead's "Goin' Down the Road
Feelin' Bad" was one of the rollicking closers to finish out (but
definitely not prophesy bad tidings) for the next four nights, of
which I will now provide some highlights.
BACKWARDS TO the introduction
ONWARDS TO 4 June >>